Berkeley and Oakland’s public libraries look like they belong to different countries

Just went to the West Berkeley library for the first time, and it was amazing. The library was in this sleek brown building that was all glass walls and shiny letters stamped out in chrome and computerized scanning self-checkout and angular white  shelving brackets. There’s a reading room that’s just for teens and there was actually a teen in it (on a Friday afternoon!)

Whereas the Golden Gate branch of the Oakland library, which is only a mile and a half from the West Berkeley library, was just two big dusty rooms inside a large brick building. There was an admirable simplicity to it, I guess. And it was well-utilized. But it didn’t contain nearly the sense of ease and hopefulness that the Berkeley library does.

However, both libraries are, to me, exactly the same. I don’t spend time in the library. I don’t work in the library. I don’t read in the library. I just go online, place books on hold, and collect them from the library, so all that matters to me is how many books they have. In terms of their collections, Oakland probably has more books, since it’s a bigger system. But even that’s not that big of a deal, since both libraries belong to the Link Plus system, which is a consortium of municipal and university libraries that stretches across California and Nevada. If a library doesn’t have a book in its own catalogue, I can log into Link Plus and use a very user-friendly system to arrange an interlibrary loan. And using Link Plus, it is possible to get literally every book published in the last fifty years. I mean that. Like, maybe there’s some book out there that no Link PLus library has, but I’ve never yet searched for a book and been unable to find it.

2 thoughts on “Berkeley and Oakland’s public libraries look like they belong to different countries

  1. Wm Henry Morris (@WmHenryMorris)

    I miss Link Plus. The Hennepin Library system is great for genre fiction, and there is a Minnesota consortium where I can get some works of criticism, history, etc. but as good as it is, it’s nowhere near as comprehensive and slick and fast as Link Plus.

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